Project Stage

Zoning Bylaw Council Decision

On Monday November 26, 2018, City Council passed a suite of amendments (Item 3.17) to the Zoning Bylaw that will make it easier for new businesses to open, and simpler for residents and businesses to hold short-term special events like community parties and festivals.

Highlights of the changes include:

  • Removing development permit requirements for some new businesses opening in existing buildings, saving time and money for business owners
  • Removing the need for minor home-based businesses from requiring a development permit, saving small business owners a $125 startup cost
  • Making it simpler to hold special events on private and public property
  • Creating more opportunities for farmers markets throughout the city

These changes are part of the City of Edmonton’s efforts to be open for business, support the local economy, and encourage Edmonton’s festival city spirit and community gatherings. Taken together, the proposed amendments can contribute to a more robust economy and a more vibrant city for all Edmontonians. 

Project Overview

The Zoning Bylaw sets out rules for all development and activities on private property in Edmonton.  

Change of use developments are when a new business moves into an existing building, for example, a retail store opening where a hair salon used to be located. Change of use can also include when the activities of the use intensify, such as adding more seats to a restaurant.  

A development permit is also required to operate a business from home. Minor Home-Based Businesses are operated in the home by a resident and are seldom detectable from the outside of the property.

The Zoning Bylaw can be unclear about why development permits are needed for temporary events like a backyard wedding, a farmers market, a seasonal garden centre, community league parties, or a music festival. 

This project seeks to streamline the development permit process for new businesses opening in existing buildings and Minor Home Based Businesses. It also establishes a clear framework for temporary special events to support community activities, businesses and festivals.

New Regulations

To reduce these barriers, the text amendments to the Zoning Bylaw remove the need for development permits for some change of use developments and Minor Home Based Businesses. 

The text amendments will remove the need for development permits for new businesses opening in existing buildings if:

  • They are a permitted use
  • No changes are being made to the outside of the buildings
  • No additional floor area is being added to the building
  • The uses comply with any specific size and location requirements of the zone they are located in

An implication of this change is that new businesses moving into existing buildings will not be required to provide any additional parking. They will instead be able to make use of the existing parking on site. 

The changes also remove the requirement for Minor Home Based Businesses to get a development permit, provided they comply with relevant regulations. Minor Home Based Businesses will still be required to get a business licence. 

The new regulations for temporary events include the introduction of Special Events as a new land use. Special Events will be subject to a number of regulations to mitigate potential nuisances to adjacent properties. Some Special Events, including those that are 5 days or less, will not need development permits. 

The changes also create more opportunities for farmers markets throughout the city, and include modest changes for temporary Residential Sales Centres.

Public Engagement

The City of Edmonton is committed to citizen engagement. 

An Insight Survey was undertaken between April 17 and 24, 2018, that asked respondents for their level of support with some of the key changes. In general, a high level of support was expressed by survey respondents. A draft version of the council report (Item 3.17) and proposed changes was circulated to external stakeholders on March 9, 2018, for a four week period to review and provide feedback on.